I joined more than 100 participants at the 4th annual eSIM forum in Berlin in February. All of us who attended are interested in the cross-industry transformation that is currently taking place due to the introduction of eSIMs. The two day conference was jam-packed with a lot of interesting presentations and plenty of time to network.
Here are my three main takeaways:
1. The multiple use of the word eSIM is causing confusion.
With eSIM technology the connectivity service profile of the secure identity is separated from the physical chip it is stored on (GSMA M2M eUICC Architecture). As we all know, the physical chip comes in the following current form factors plugin (2FF-4FF) and embedded. When embedded was introduced it got the name eSIM. When the standard for a remotely provisioned Secure Identity was introduced it was also given the eSIM name, with the reasoning that in the future all remotely provisioned Secure Identities will be embedded. But as we are not at that point, this is causing a lot of wasted time spent on miscommunication.
Even if everyone attending the conference was deep into the topic the terminology was used differently in different presentations. The fact that the function (that a profile can be remotely provisioned) and the formfactor (embedded) have the same name by GSMA, it makes it challenging for everyone launching the solution as it is quite complex to describe to customers.
We at Tele2 IoT try to distinguish between this by using the following terminology:
- eUICC is a chip that can have one or many subscription identities (virtual profiles) downloaded and managed remotely
- Our eSIM is an eUICC with our subscription (profile) enabled on delivery, but that can of course be changed, which provides freedom and flexibility for our customers.
- A SIM is an UICC with a Tele2 subscription profile that cannot be changed over time. eUICCs and UICCs come in plug in and embedded form factors
2. Consumer eSIMs are taking off but challenges remain in creating a smooth customer journey.
The consumer eSIM rollout is being fueled by the fact that some large brands are launching global connected products that really benefit from eSIMs. The products leading the way are connected watches by Apple and Samsung, which basically cannot fit a plug-in SIM. Because they are sold globally the eSIM is ideal, enabling the consumer to download their preferred subscription wherever the watch is sold. While not everyone has a connected watch, most do have at least one smartphone. And as the latest iPhone models have eSIM this has made a huge impact on the market.